Parents' Guide to

May December

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Haynes' mature observational melodrama has sex, smoking.

Movie R 2023 117 minutes
May December Movie Poster: Natalie Portman stands behind Julianne Moore; both look straight at the camera

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+

Moore, Portman and Melton shine in this film of manipulation

Actors at the top of their game portraying subtlety and ridiculousness in equal measure. A film about the craft and ethics of acting and performing real people's lives as well as commentary on that life. Moore, Portman and Melton dance around each other and keep the tension and what each character wants just enough out of reach of the other person. The level of manipulation exhibited by Moore and Portman's characters is enough reason to watch this film. Manipulation and coercion occurs in banal moments which in this film get recognized with an awkward (on purpose) score. Well done.
age 16+

A very interesting and thought-provoking film about the long-term harms of sexual abuse and the ethics and blurred lines of film-making voyeurism. Definitely recommend it for mature audiences but not a film for younger teens or below due to the mature themes and the semi-graphic sex scene

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Director Todd Haynes cleverly, quietly challenges viewers not to judge this melodrama's once-scandalous couple. A 36-year-old in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old? Monstrous! But a 59-year-old married to a 36-year-old for 20 years with three great kids and neighbors who adore them? Hmmmm, that's different ... or is it? By using Elizabeth and her probing questions as a vehicle to help viewers understand Gracie and Joe, Haynes allows "inquiring minds" the questions we'd all like to ask.

That said, his unusual choices for the movie's score -- it's adapted from the 1971 film The Go-Between -- sets up a tonal imbalance that may throw viewers off-balance. Serious moments and scene changes are marked with a music gong that's reminiscent of a soap opera (or, even more so, SNL's soap opera parody "The Californians"). Viewers may find themselves laughing through this unsettling drama in a way that feels intentional by Haynes but also somewhat inappropriate, given the charged subject matter. Just like reading tabloid fodder that exploits others' mistakes, when May December's credits roll, you may just realize you're not better for the time you spent on it.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: November 17, 2023
  • On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2023
  • Cast: Julianne Moore , Natalie Portman , Charles Melton
  • Director: Todd Haynes
  • Inclusion Information: Gay directors, Female actors, Asian actors, Female writers
  • Studio: Netflix
  • Genre: Drama
  • Character Strengths: Curiosity
  • Run time: 117 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: some sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
  • Last updated: December 6, 2023

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